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Greatest Tank Battles of all Time

The Military Channel is set to debut a pretty cool series on Jan. 5 examining the most famous tank battles of all time.

Filmed on battlefields across the world, the series uses stunning, ultra-realistic CGI animation to recount the step-by-step maneuvers used in the most colossal combats from the last century.  In each episode, viewers witness the gritty realism and experience the thunderous tanks from perspectives never before possible.  Coupled with first-hand accounts from the eyes of the very soldiers who manned the guns and guided the monster machines, this new original series puts viewers right in the heat of the action and inside the tank’s atmosphere.

Watching some of the media previews, I think this marketing speak is a bit hyperbolic…the GCI is not “stunning” or “ultra-realistic” — it reminds me more of a computer tank fighting game from the discount rack at Target, than a Dreamworks production. But it’s the Military Channel, after all.

What is impressive from the episodes I’ve seen, however, are the first person interviews of the crews in some of those tanks. Listening to on the ground memories from a Syrian officer on what he saw looking down the Golan at his Israeli counterpart is awesome.

The series examines nine battles (one of them is divided into two parts) making for ten episodes. I’m not going to identify the battles they look into here because I want to see which epic tank battles our Defense Tech readers think the Military Channel should have focused on.

So list out your top 10 tank battles in the comments, and by the end of the week I’ll reveal what Military Channel went with (and no cheating please for those of you who might have access to the actual list)…

I’ll start with two of the battles they profile: The Battle of 73 Easting (Desert Storm) and the Battle for the Golan in ’73.

The series begins January 5 from 2200–2300 EST.

– Christian

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

@Joe_Schmoe12 December 28, 2010 at 10:48 am

Well the 1973 Yom-Kippur War saw the greatest tank-on-tank battles of all time, even greater than Kursk. In fact, reading first hand accounts of the battle are incredible. We have at times a WW2 melee with 1970's weapons and tanks, shooting at each other from mere meters. At other times we have a handful of tanks sniping off others from great distances.

It also saw the first major use of a ATGM in history (Sagger and RPG2/7), and how during the battle the tankers had to come up with ways to counter. Truly, an incredible feat by the Israeli's.

Notable mentions to look for here are:
Force Zvika
"The Yom Kippur War - Abraham Rabinovich"

————

Kursk also, of course, has to be given a mention. While on paper it had more tanks than the 1973 battle, most of them never saw each other. Many broke down on the way to the field and even were taken out by mines.

Israel's 1967 Six-Day War also showed how pertinent the tank can be under well trained troops and commanders. The war contained amazing feats of maneuver warfare, at which tanks were a critical part.

And who can forget Patton and Rommel.

1991's Desert Storm also deserves a mention.

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The One December 28, 2010 at 11:33 am

Obviously, the Kursk in Jul 1943. The biggest tank battle ever.

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@Joe_Schmoe12 December 28, 2010 at 4:26 pm

Most tanks 'committed' to a battle. Only a small percentage actually saw each other in combat.

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Collossus December 28, 2010 at 11:41 am

"the GCI is not"

CGI???

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elgatoso December 28, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Computer-generated imagery

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Kylran December 28, 2010 at 3:15 pm

I think he was noticing that the author typed ‘GCI’ instead of ‘CGI’…

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elgatoso December 29, 2010 at 1:13 am

My bad

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Ed! December 28, 2010 at 12:13 pm

I would think for the list that both the battle of Kursk and the SS charge to attempt to break the lines for Powlus' retreat after the battle of Stalingrad would be good to have. Battle of 73 Easting and the Battle of Medina Ridge I would also include. The battle of Taejon in the Korean war as well which saw what the T-34 could do against US armor of the period. Certainly many battles for the Yom Kippur war can be sited, especially one or two from the syrian front. I think you may have to add the first tank battle from WW1 just for it being the start of combat with tanks.

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elgatoso December 28, 2010 at 2:33 pm

A small correction .It is Von Paulus , not Powlus

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tperk1 December 28, 2010 at 12:34 pm

I haven't read much about 73 easting, but I heard we just had the Iraqi's out-ranged and at night. So I would have ti say Kursk 1943 and the1973 Yom-Kippur War. God was definitely on the IDF's side that day - up in the Golan Heights when the (executed) Syrian Tank commander just stopped. he thought the small bridge was left intact as part of a trap, but if he would have crossed it, who knows if Israel would even be on the map today. Can anyone recommend where I can find a good web-site that has to do with the tactics of 73 Easting ( Desert Storm)?" Send to aptonytodd@gmail.com Thanks

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Kelly December 28, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Ther's a great book thats been out for quite a while: "Crusade"? I think its by a guy named Atkinson. There is a chapter on 73 Easting.

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Chris T December 28, 2010 at 3:13 pm

It is Crusade. Very good history of the gulf war from before the Iraqi invasion to the end of hostilities.

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blight December 29, 2010 at 3:08 am

As far as research says, I didn't see anything about executed Syrian tank commanders. On both sides in the Golan, there were units pitted against each other that had lost their field commanders in combat. To a force trained on timetables and on the attack, I imagine these kinds of losses are more devastating.

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Musson December 28, 2010 at 12:53 pm

I have a couple more to throw out.

The Battle for France would have to be here as Greman Panzers ran their Blitzkreig to perfection.

The Battle of El AlaMein.

The Battle of the Bulge - German Armor against American infantry and cannons.

The Normandy Breakout - Operation Cobra

Operation Market Garden

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Boswell December 28, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Prokhorovka will be on there I'm sure. There are probably dozens of other engagements from the eastern front of WWII that could be on this show, but I imagine they will stay away from focusing too closely on any one conflict, and Prokhorovka was certainly the largest pitched tank battle from that theatre.

But I wouldn't be surprised to see the Ardennes Offensive in '44-'45 get a mention.

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tperk1 December 29, 2010 at 9:06 am

The Ukraine was great tanker country. If the Germans would have had better logistics (Airborne & ground like we have today) the Panzer corps. would have taken Russia. Instead: General Winter & Col. Time save the Soviets by allowing them to move most of their armor industry further east. I especially like reading about Stalingrad and the fighting around the Tractor factory (converted to tank manufacturing). At one point the Soviets were driving them right off the assembly line and into battle less than a few hundred-meters away! There was probably too many armored engagements on the Eastern Front to mention, it could have it's own show - I would love that.

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rob06 December 28, 2010 at 1:20 pm

I'd like to see the tank battles fought between Pakistani and Indian forces in there several engagemetns since partion.

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praetorian December 28, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Battle of Asal Uttar 1965 India vs Pakistan gets my vote

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Pirouz December 28, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Liberation of Khoramshar, Iran
The Imposed War
T55 (captured), M60 and M48 versus T62

Tank battles involving Creighton Abrams (4th Armored Div) pitting Shermans against Panthers and winning.

T-34/85 versus M41
Korean War (Pusan perimeter)

Centurian versus T62
South Africa versus Cuba in Angola War

T55 and T34/85 versus M48
Liberation of southern VietNam
(Final battle of the VietNam War)

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blight December 29, 2010 at 3:11 am

You've got a great list, one that isn't as fixated on American, Russian or Israeli battles. I recall the ARVN fought its fair share of tank battles, and did well until the supply issues finished them.

Regarding Khoramshar, ARMOR magazine did a piece in May of '99 (it and Hue).

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tperk1 December 29, 2010 at 9:39 am

I think I might of read it, or one like it titled "Tanks in the Wire," the NVA did an excellent job bringing armor down the Ho Chi Minh trail. In the article the; FOB Green Beret camp came under attack and their superiors (on the radio is Saigon) didn't believe they were tanks because G2 said it was impossible. The Brass were asking the men all sorts of idiotic questions. One of the men commented that he thought he was going to have to "run out knock on the hatch and ask a NVA tanker to verify he's in a tank," or something to that effect. I think the Green Berets had the newly issued "Laws" that proved to be ineffective.

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Brian Mulholland December 28, 2010 at 7:13 pm

The Prokhorovka engagement from Kursk, at a mimimum; Citadel had several individual encounters worth including, but the producers will want to stick to fights that are more familiar to Americans.; the first encounters between the T-34 and the PzKw II and III outside Moscow. El Alamein and Kasserine Pass; what about tank fights at Khalkin - Gol? the relief of Bastogne.

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jsallison December 28, 2010 at 11:51 pm

Without reading any of the other posts, and in no particular order: 3) Prochorovka, 4) Chinese Farm, 5) Israeli counterattack into egyptian Suez crossing defenses, 6) 3rd Army's wheel into the flank of the Bulge Salient and relief of Bastogne, 7) El Alamein , 8) Destruction of Army Group Center (possibly a little too large in scale), 9) Operation Goodwood, 10) Khalkin Gol (sp?).

And just for giggles I'd love to see a feature length film of the voyage of the Imperial Russian Baltic Fleet to it's destruction at Tsushima, but I guess that's a topic for a different post.

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mel December 29, 2010 at 2:48 am

the battle of Chawinda, fought between Pakistan and India - 1965

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blight December 29, 2010 at 2:49 am

Thunder Run into Baghdad might not be much tank v tank, but tank fighting in urban environments would be a great counterpoint to the standard "my tank is bigger than yours because…" that is quite typical in armchair circles.

A full simulation of a Fulda Gap tank battle would be awesome, even if it never happened. I imagine many tankers on both sides spent their years in the service preparing for a battle that their children are probably glad never came…

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tperk1 December 29, 2010 at 9:14 am

Yes, I would like to see tank action in urban area's. In Falluja, they supposedly blew holes through rows of houses so the infantry wasn't fighting in the exposed in the streets. I think it might have been done in WWII when the fighting got into Germany & every house was turned into a pill-box.

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Ripberger December 29, 2010 at 2:59 am

How about the first tank battle? The Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux during WWI between British Mark VIs and German A7Vs.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Battle_of_Vil...

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Ripberger December 29, 2010 at 2:59 am

Correction: British Mark IVs.

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Jsmith December 29, 2010 at 7:14 am

Liberation of Kuwait, 1990. Got to be covered.

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REMF December 29, 2010 at 9:25 am

Is "tank battle" meant to mean tank versus tank or do battles where tanks were used mainly or exclusively by only one side also count? Cambrai and the 1972 Easter Offensive come to mind.

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Dmodder December 29, 2010 at 9:59 am

I agree with the above mentioned. However, don't forget the battle for Caen. The Brits, Canadians, and Polish warriors fought a bitter battle with serious armor - although more losses to antitank guns and air cover than tank v. tank, but…

And, this battle opened the way for the Operation Cobra to make the swing around.

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